Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The importance and meaning of friendship among older adults
by Warren, Ermione Koutsoudis, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 1997, 256; 9806941
Abstract (Summary)

Perhaps the most fundamental relationship is friendship. Friendship is particularly important for older adults, who utilize their friendships as buffers for dealing with the stress associated with the losses which occur in the twilight years. This study addressed the dynamics of friendship in older adulthood from a Jungian perspective. Jungian psychology argues that humans proceed toward a life goal through a series of life cycles based on archetypal configurations. For Jung, human existence is a process of ongoing development; new attitudes are required at each phase, as is a renewed orientation and reanchoring of oneself. Of all the life transitions that humans negotiate, Jung was most interested in the developmental dynamics of later life.

The purpose of the study was to examine the importance and meaning of friendship among a sample of eight older adults. The researcher conducted interviews using the phenomenological method. Following were key findings. (1) Many older adults relied upon family members as friends. (2) Geographical proximity was not necessary for deeply meaningful relationships. (3) Many subjects had intergenerational friendships. (4) Cultural factors come into play in that several subjects were born abroad and subsequently immigrated to America. These immigrants had grown up in traditional societies in which the dynamics of friendship differed significantly from that in a Westernized setting. (5) Seven of eight subjects had one or more close friends with whom they could communicate and with whom a spiritual relationship could be said to exist. In the eighth case, the animal companion served as a friend. (6) Many of the friendships demonstrated reciprocity and mutual caring.

The final chapter discussed these findings in theoretical context and in light of their implications for clinical psychology.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lipinski, Barbara
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 58/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychotherapy, Social psychology
Keywords: archetypes, caring, intergenerational, reciprocity
Publication Number: 9806941
ISBN: 978-0-591-57165-3
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